2004-2005 MARIN COUNTY CIVIL GRAND JURY by fdh56iuoui


									                          2004-2005 MARIN COUNTY CIVIL GRAND JURY

                                   Water, Water Anywhere?
                             A Review of Marin's Water Resources

                                         Lake Nicasio in Drought, 1991

                                                                              Date of Report: April 27, 2005

Reports issued by the Civil Grand Jury do not identify individuals interviewed. Penal Code Section 929 requires that
reports of the Grand Jury not contain the name of any person, or facts leading to the identity of any person who
provides information to the Civil Grand Jury. The California State Legislature has stated that it intends the
provisions of Penal Code Section 929 prohibiting disclosure of witness identities to encourage full candor in
testimony in Civil Grand Jury investigations by protecting the privacy and confidentiality of those who participate in
any Civil Grand Jury investigation.
                                                                 Water, Water Anywhere?
                                                     A Review of Marin's Water Resources

The Grand Jury undertook an analysis of current and future supplies of water needed for Marin
County. It was determined that supply and demand are balanced under normal year run-off
conditions. However, the situation in central and southern Marin, the region serviced by the
Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), constitutes a serious risk during times of drought.
MMWD estimates that, in the event of two consecutive dry winters (50% of average rainfall), a
shortfall of about 3,000 acre feet (AF) will occur, even with mandated cutbacks of up to 25%.
(For this estimate, MMWD considered the recurrence of a drought similar to that of 1976-77 and
then factored in a reduction in demand through rationing and conservation.) By 2015, this
shortfall is expected to grow to approximately 7,000 AF.

Therefore, MMWD has decided that additional sources of water are needed to minimize the risks
that accompany droughts. The Grand Jury agrees. MMWD has explored many options, but only
two appeared viable and significant: desalination of Bay water and increased imports of water
from Sonoma, commonly referred to as Russian River water, via an enhanced pipeline. The latter
option is less expensive than desalination, but it is projected that additional supplies via a
pipeline would not be available for 10 to 15 years, whereas a new desalination plant could be
operating in five years. MMWD has identified other advantages of desalination, including the
fact that the water would be under complete MMWD control.

The Grand Jury recommends that conservation of an additional 10% be implemented even
during normal times. The Grand Jury recommends that MMWD fully inform the public of its
plans for supplying water during a drought and seek approval of its choice via the ballot box.
Because MMWD is legally required to release water from its reservoirs to sustain Coho salmon
and steelhead trout during droughts, the Grand Jury recommends that legal requirements for dam
releases to sustain endangered fish during droughts be renegotiated to increase water availability
for public consumption.

All water agencies have the responsibility to provide clean, inexpensive water to meet the needs
of their constituents. Marin County experienced three droughts in the last century. The drought
of 1976-77 was the most severe in the last 30 years and highlighted the lack of reliable
alternatives for the County to procure water in times of serious shortage.

MMWD, which has the responsibility for operations and planning at the local level, is
undertaking an in-depth cost and reliability analysis of alternative water sources that include
desalination, increased Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) imports via a pipeline, and

In times of drought, northern Marin, serviced by the North Marin Water District (NMWD), is in
a better position than southern Marin. Eighty percent of NMWD’s water comes from the Sonoma
County Water Agency, i.e., outside of the county, and NMWD arranged to be a prime contractor
with a first cut at SCWA water flowing through Novato. MMWD, on the other hand, is only a

April 27, 2005                         Marin County Civil Grand Jury                       Page 1 of 15
                                                                      Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

customer and does not have the same guarantees of water being available that contractors have.
NMWD serves about 57,000 people using about 10,000 AF annually, compared to MMWD,
which serves about 186,000 people using some 32,000 AF annually. (For units of measurement
used throughout this report, please see Water Measurements box, below.) The coastal water
districts, Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, and Inverness, rely on groundwater and stream-
fed sources that appear to be adequate for current and projected needs, provided their customers
reduce water usage in times of drought. Thus, in all of Marin County, central and southern
Marin, which are serviced by the MMWD, are more at risk.

The units of water measurement shown in the box below will help the reader in understanding
the following discussion.

  Our water bills are calculated in units of 100 cubic feet (CCF).
       One CCF equals 748 gallons.
  Storage tank sizes are measured in millions of gallons (MG) and production and treatment facilities in millions of gallons per
  day (MGD).
       326,000 gallons equals one acre-foot (AF), the quantity needed to cover one acre one foot deep.
       One AF will supply three households for one year.
  Large scale usage is measured in acre-feet per year (AFY).
       1000AFY is roughly equal to 1MGD.
       A 5MGD desalination plant will produce about 5000 AFY.

Interviews and contacts were held with current and past Board Members and staff of the Marin
Municipal Water District, the North Marin Water District, and the coastal water districts of
Marin County, as well as other interested and informed parties in both Marin and Sonoma

The Grand Jury:

           Read and analyzed many reports dealing with water management, water needs, and water
           usage in Marin
           Investigated and analyzed the potential use of all sources of water to provide adequate
           water under drought conditions
           Analyzed the costs of the various options to provide water

April 27, 2005                                 Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                           Page 2 of 15
                                                                           Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

Where Does the Marin Municipal Water District Get Its Water Today?

MMWD’s supply of 32,000 AF per year (AFY) consists of the following:

           Seven storage reservoirs with a total capacity of 79,566 acre feet (25.9 billion gallons)
           which provide 72%, or about 23,000 AFY, of water used, at a cost of about $280/AF
           A pipeline from the North Marin Water District for delivery of Sonoma County Water
           Agency water, which provides 8,000 AFY, i.e., 26% of the total, at a cost of about
           Recycled water, primarily from the Las Gallinas water recycling plant, which provides
           only 2% of the total

Will Central and Southern Marin Have Enough Water for the Future?

For MMWD’s service area the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) projects a small
population increase from the 184,818 persons in 2000 to 198,846 by 2020. Current systems and
agreements for shipments of water meet all normal year demands because winter/spring rains fill
reservoirs to provide enough water throughout a normal dry summer. In addition, MMWD has
built a reserve sufficient to serve customers even if there is a dry winter followed by a dry spring.
This system has served the central and southern Marin community successfully for the last
century but was most recently stressed during the droughts in 1976-77 and the late 1980’s
indicated in Figure 1.





























                                                                           y e a rs

                                       Figure 1 Rainfall at Lake Lagunitas 1976-2004

Several important factors have changed since the 1976-77 drought. Reservoir capacity has
increased from about 53,000 to 80,000 AF, and the importation of SCWA water has grown to
8,000 acre feet per year (AFY). These changes, if taken only by themselves, would mitigate the

April 27, 2005                                      Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 3 of 15
                                                                 Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

effects of a drought, making a 1976-77 style drought less onerous than it was then. Recently,
actual reservoir storage capacity has been questioned. Water experts indicate that up to 15% of
what is listed as reservoir capacity actually consists of silt and mud that cannot be tapped easily.
In addition, by the time a drought is recognized, much of reservoir capacity already will have
been used.

Furthermore, even in droughts, legally required releases of water from dams to sustain
endangered fish in Lagunitas and Walker Creeks have first priority on reservoir water. These
releases average about 9,000 AFY, and the releases needed to maintain required flows may
actually increase during droughts. For example, Soulajule reservoir, which is used only in
emergencies, had less than half of its capacity available when the last drought was first
recognized, the rest having been released to Walker Creek to support salmon spawning runs.
During droughts this “fish flow” would roughly cancel the gains from the changes noted above,
making a 1976-77 style drought as bad as before. The Grand Jury believes that if the required
stream releases were successfully renegotiated, more water would be available for needed human

How Much Is Enough?

Water agencies plan for a worst-case scenario based on recent experience. MMWD has
calculated the available supply as being about 30,000 AFY. In general practice, current supply
levels accumulated through a normal winter and spring carry us through a normal dry summer. If
a drought then occurs in the following winter and spring, it would force the use of reserves and
conservation efforts beginning with 10% minimum cutbacks. If the drought continued for a
second winter and spring, emergency measures would be instituted with 25% minimum
cutbacks; but even then, there would not be enough water to last through the following summer
and fall. This second year of drought would be expected to deplete all reservoir capacity, and
even with the conservation efforts listed above, MMWD would be at least 3,200 AFY short.

By the year 2015, demand is predicted to increase by another 1,650 AFY. When this is coupled
with the loss of 2,300 AFY in pipeline deliveries projected by that time (see below), two years of
drought is expected to result in a total projected deficit of 7,060 AFY.1 This scenario
approximates the County’s actual experience in the drought of 1976-77 adjusted to today’s
circumstances. The impact of such a deficit is characterized by officials of MMWD as being
“extremely severe.”

Can Local Ground Water Be Tapped To Augment Supplies?

Currently, development of increased access to ground water, with a hoped-for potential yield of
1,000 to 2,000 AFY, is under study by a consulting firm, GSi. Senior staff at MMWD, however,
dispute the number of 1,000-2,000 AFY, believing it to be too optimistic.

Can Central and Southern Marin Get More of Its Water from Sonoma?

The question arises as to whether or not central and southern Marin could simply get more water
from Sonoma County. The answer is no, because present facilities are limited. As described by

    “Desalination” presentation by MMWD

April 27, 2005                            Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 4 of 15
                                                                       Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

water experts, SCWA water, mainly from Lake Sonoma, is mostly available to Marin in the
winter, when it’s not needed, with little being available in the summer, when it is needed. At this
time MMWD gets up to 26% of its water supply from Sonoma. Under a contract with SCWA,
water flows from collectors on the Russian River near Guerneville through an SCWA pipeline to
the Kastania Storage Tank in Petaluma. From there, it travels via an NMWD pipeline to an
MMWD connection in Ignacio. Because the pipelines have a finite capacity and Sonoma County
and north Marin water usage continues to increase as their populations grow, less water will be
available for delivery to central and southern Marin. The 8,000 AFY being received now is
estimated to shrink to 6,000 AFY by the year 2015. This is termed the “Projected Decay of
Excess Delivery Capacity” in the NMWD system. In the summer, the pipeline that MMWD
shares with NMWD puts out water at a rate faster than the water can be replenished. Some water
officials think that the demand for water already exceeds what the pipeline can provide.

NMWD draws its SCWA water from the Kastania Storage Tank. During peak demand periods in
summer, the storage level of Kastania falls below a critical 50%. Because of the decline in excess
storage capacity, “the rate of storage depletion continues to increase each consecutive year.”2 It is
forecast that by 2015, some 2,300 AFY of water will be lost to MMWD unless SCWA can
physically increase its deliveries to Kastania. A voter approved bond issue in 1992 (Measure V)
provided funds for a new pipeline to be built alongside the current one. Absent a drought-
induced immediate need and with continuing anti-growth sentiment, that pipeline was never laid,
and the funds for it remain available for other purposes. MMWD now calculates that pipeline
enhancement and in-system distribution improvements adequate to provide an additional 5,000
AFY (at an estimated cost of $1,020 to $1,460 per AF) will cost a total of about $70 million.3

For the last 12 years, MMWD has been monitoring both the decay of pipeline delivery capacity
and the availability of SCWA supply, but no decision has been made on the proper timing for
pipeline enhancement. Part of the reason is that some officials at MMWD worry about relying on
the Sonoma County Water Agency for any long-term solution. They express concern with the
agency’s level of commitment to their non-county customers and contractors. (A Contractor,
such as NMWD or Petaluma, is one of the original signatories to the SCWA Water Agreement
Master Plan, with primary and equal rights of access. A Customer, such as MMWD, is a
secondary beneficiary, receiving water only “as available.”) They mention issues with reliability
and follow-up. “There are real problems with sourcing through them.” But foremost is their
concern about giving up control to an outside agency (i.e., SCWA).

It should be noted that even in the best of circumstances, including full funding and permit
approvals, an appropriate pipeline would take 10-12 years to complete.4

MMWD has various existing contracts with the Sonoma County Water Agency for supplemental
water supplies:

           An Off-Peak Water Supply Agreement concluded in 1975 provides for the delivery of up
           to 4,300 AFY of SCWA water primarily during October through May (the rainy season
           when the water is usually not needed) of each year.

  SCWA Staff Report Nov.1,2004.
  MMWD Long Range Financial Master Plan.
  Marin Municipal Water District Board Member interview

April 27, 2005                                  Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 5 of 15
                                                               Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

            An “As-Available” Water Supply Agreement signed in 1991 and amended in 1996,
            making 5,000 AFY available during May through October (the usual dry season when
            water is needed) on a “firm” basis with an option on an additional 5,000 AFY from Lake
            Sonoma. (MMWD has until June 30, 2005 to make the additional 5,000 AFY “firm”.)

MMWD and SCWA are negotiating possible modifications to these current agreements such that
MMWD would have until 2014 to decide whether or not to pay about $6 million to obtain the
rights to that additional 5,000 AFY of Lake Sonoma water. In exchange for the extension until
2014, MMWD would agree to pay a contemplated environmental surcharge, and fund a portion
of SCWA’s planned system improvements. The price of this water would be capped at $500 per

Both of the existing contracts remain in effect until June 30, 2034, but are burdened with

            In 1972, MMWD declined to become a “prime contractor” with water rights equal to
            those of other users of SCWA water. This puts them at the end of the line for receiving
            water that might be in short supply during a drought
            The future of Sonoma County water deliveries is clouded by the current “Impairment”
            regime. In 1992, the SCWA started to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for
            planned improvements to their water supply system to enable it to meet defined future
            needs of its contractors, e.g. NMWD and customers, such as MMWD. In 1998, the EIR
            was certified, and the system’s enhancement plan approved. Litigation ensued, however,
            and in May 2003, in Friends of the Eel River v. Sonoma County Water Agency, the EIR
            was found to be deficient. In December 2003, the Sonoma County Superior Court
            directed SCWA to rescind approval of the planned improvements, and to prepare a
            supplemental EIR addressing the environmental concerns at issue, e.g., Russian River
            flow volumes and Eel River diversions. An entirely new EIR was considered necessary to
            reflect changed demand based on current general plans and the results of an exhaustive
            biological study of the Russian River. “In some cases what was a future need is now a
            current need.” 6 New EIR certification and approval of the system enhancement plan may
            come before the SCWA as early as summer 2007. Until SCWA can complete its system
            improvements, it will not necessarily be able to fulfill its contractual obligations for water
            supplies for its contractors and customers and is therefore considered to be “impaired”.7

Wasn’t There a Pipeline from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) over the Richmond –
San Rafael Bridge?

During the severe 1976-77 drought, an emergency measure allowed the delivery of EBMUD
water over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. A temporary pipeline was rapidly put in place. The
pipeline has since been removed, and EBMUD has advised MMWD that, because they need the

    .SCWA Staff Report Nov.1,2004.

April 27, 2005                          Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 6 of 15
                                                                   Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

water for themselves, such deliveries will not be made in the future. Twenty-eight years after the
last receipt of water from EBMUD, no reliable alternative emergency supply has been identified.

Can Users Conserve Enough Water To Carry Us through Another Drought?

The drought scenarios in place assume that major conservation efforts will occur as soon as a
drought is declared. In fact, significant conservation efforts are already taking place and are
being encouraged through tiered pricing, rebates, consultations, education, and monitoring. For
example, many residences already use low-flow toilets, and MMWD is seeking further
reductions in landscape irrigation. However, by the time a drought is declared at the end of the
first dry year, MMWD would already have depleted half of its reservoir storage. Ongoing
conservation of about 10% of usage before the first dry year could allow MMWD to retain
enough water in its reservoirs to lessen the impact of a second year of drought.

MMWD engineers, however, are concerned that “demand hardening” will occur; i.e., not much
more “conserving” can be demanded from the consumer. Considering the growth in demand for
water over the last three decades, a two-year drought of the magnitude of 1976-77 would require
extreme efforts at additional conservation.

Consequently, MMWD has adopted the following approach to dealing with drought conditions:

           Voluntary rationing with a target of 10% reduction in water use reached when reservoir
           storage falls below 50,000 AF on April 1 or
           Mandatory 25% rationing when April 1 reservoir storage falls below 40,000 AF.
           Incremental forced rationing up to 50% levels and higher are planned as supplies tighten,
           with residential services being given allotments based on the number of people per
           Exceeding the residential allotment two times can result in the forced installation of a
           flow restrictor and a 20% surcharge.

Can the Recycling Effort Be Expanded?

Starting with a pilot plant during the drought of 1976-77, MMWD was a pioneer in water
recycling. The present Las Gallinas Water Recycling Plant annually produces 700 AF for
specific use in landscape irrigation, a car wash, and toilet flushing at the county jail and nearby
office buildings.9 Possible expansion of the Las Gallinas plant depends upon the size and type of
future development at the nearby St.Vincent/Silveira properties. Estimated costs for this
expanded production average from $2,660/AF to $3,220/AF.

MMWD studied expansion of the recycling effort further south at the Central Marin Sanitary
Agency (CMSA) sewage plant in southeast San Rafael. About 900 AFY of potential recycled
water use had been identified in the service area. Unfortunately, further study revealed that too
much salt water was intruding into the CMSA sewage collection system to make usable recycled

    MMWD 2000 Urban Water Management Plan

April 27, 2005                              Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 7 of 15
                                                                     Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

water economically feasible.10 A 2004 study of potential smaller satellite plants identified 3 sites
with a total of 280 AFY at costs per acre foot ranging from $3,420 to $6,470. Water recycling
efforts, though successful, realistically have already reached their maximum. With current
technology, cost estimates for increased recycled water production make it the most expensive of
the options considered, as indicated in Table 1.

                                             Table 1 Water Supply Costs

                                        Source                                  Cost
                            Reservoir                                          $280/AF
                            SCWA imports                                       $500/AF
                            Increased SCWA imports                      $1,020/AF – $1,460/AF
                            through enhanced pipeline
                            Desalinated                                 $1,500/AF – $1,700/AF
                            Expanded recycled                           $2,660/AF – $3,220/AF

Is Desalination a Viable Alternative?

MMWD considers desalination a strong option for meeting Marin’s water needs in the event of a
two-year drought and is moving forward with a pilot desalination plant using continuous
seawater reverse osmosis (RO) (for a description of the process, please see Appendix). This
operation, located in San Rafael near the Marin Rod and Gun Club, is scheduled to begin in May
2005 and gather data over a nine month period. The program’s goals are to:

           Demonstrate the reliability and efficacy of the process using Bay water
           Determine the best pretreatment process to ensure landfill acceptability of the resulting
           Develop design criteria and operating parameters for a full-scale facility
           Validate cost assumptions
           Conduct a public outreach program

A desalination plant capable of handling 5 million gallons per day (MGD), about 5,000 AFY,
and able to be expanded to 10 MGD, about 10,000 AFY, is expected to cost about $95 million
and take about 5 years to construct. If an expanded plant operated at 10 MGD, the cost of water
is projected to be about $1,500 per AF. In normal years, the operating rate of the unexpanded
plant would be 1 MGD for nine months and 4 to 5 MGD for the three summer months. In a
drought, it would run at a maximum rate of 5 MGD for as long as required. Water cost at 5 MGD
is estimated to be about $1,700 per AF.

Although the process is not seen as harmful to the Bay, a full EIR will be required. Some in the
environmental community prefer desalination over expanding SCWA pipeline service. The
plant’s output of brine will be mixed with current output from the CMSA sewage treatment plant
and be discharged in the center of the shipping channel through existing pipelines. Sludge
     MMWD 2000 Urban Water Management Plan

April 27, 2005                                Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 8 of 15
                                                                    Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

resulting from pre-treatment will be shipped to the Redwood Landfill. Aspects of both these
processes are being tested as part of the desalination pilot plant program.

Engineers indicate implementation of a full-scale desalination plant with this technology will be
difficult. “It won’t be very pretty, and it will cost a lot of money, and I sure don’t want to be the
first person on my block to give it a try, but we may be forced to do that. I don’t look forward to
being the first water district to use San Francisco Bay water as a source for a desalinating water
plant. As the guinea pig, every regulatory agency is going to take a shot at us. They won’t want
to look as though they were asleep at the wheel when this came out. So it will take us longer and
be more difficult for us to operate…”

On the other hand, the technology is being used or is under study in many places. In California
desalination projects are under study by Oceanside-Carlsbad, Long Beach, West Basin MWD,
City of Los Angeles, MWD Orange County and Port Hueneme. Plants constructed in Santa
Barbara and Moro Bay are mothballed pending need. Feasibility studies are now underway in
Texas for sites in Lower Rio Grande Valley-Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Freeport. Florida’s
installation on Tampa Bay suffered serious feedwater pretreatment problems and is not expected
to resume operations until 2006. Successful international sites include Israel, Saudi Arabia,
United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan. Specific criteria favoring desalination are seawater
access and economical electric power.

How Would MMWD Finance It?

As previously noted, the bill for a full-scale desalination plant is sizable. Although MMWD
currently owns land near the Bay that it could use, this new technology will still require
significant investment. Current estimates for plant, distribution system, and additional operating
costs, through 2014, total about $211 million.11 The agency has some $20 million from a
previous bond issue, plus additional cash reserves. Furthermore, the State has announced
preliminary approval of a $3 million grant toward MMWD’s desalination project costs. Other
grants from State and Federal sources may be forthcoming.

In the opinion of MMWD’s General Counsel, the rest could come from a new bond measure
passed by the voters or could be funded without going to the voters by using certificates of
participation, grant anticipation notes, and other off-ballot financing arrangements that do not
contravene the State Water Code.

How Much Will It Cost Consumers?

The cost estimates for both desalination and SCWA water are extremely high. By 2014, tier 1
rates/CCF are expected to increase from the present $2.43 to $4.21 with desalination and to
$3.79 with SCWA water.12 Clearly, rates will have to increase well above the inflation rate.
MMWD costs are already high in comparison to almost all other Bay Area suppliers as indicated
in Figure 2, on the following page.

     MMWD Long Range Financial Master Plan

April 27, 2005                               Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                         Page 9 of 15
                                                                 Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

                           Bay Area Water Cost Comparison

            Contra Costa WD


          Mid Peninsula WD

                  East Bay MUD

                   City of Vallejo

                    City of Napa

          City of Santa Rosa

                 City of Petaluma

      City of San Francisco

                 North Marin WD

                                     $0    $100        $200        $300       $400      $500       $600       $700
                                  Figure 2 - 2004 Annual $ Cost -
                        Single Family Detached Home Using 130,152 Gallons

Are There Other Alternatives?

Geography limits MMWD’s access to water. Only local reservoirs and the Russian River
watershed to the immediate north are viable sources with adequate volume. Multiple options
have been investigated over the years but have been rejected for environmental reasons,
prohibitive costs, or safety concerns:

           Diverting Lower Lagunitas Creek
           Creating a Devil’s Gulch Reservoir
           Tapping local floodwaters
           Raising Kent and Nicasio Lakes
           Damming San Antonio Creek

April 27, 2005                            Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                        Page 10 of 15
                                                             Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

           Building a North Bay aqueduct for Delta water purchased from the State
           Using the Mokelumne Aqueduct (East Bay Municipal Utilities District)
           Using the Hetch-Hetchy Aqueduct (San Francisco)
           Expanding the treatment plant for reclaimed wastewater for reuse

Does the Public Have a Role to Play?

When asked if public awareness of the issues needs to improve, one senior official said, "Yes!
This has to be ingrained in people's psyche – to use less water. We are living in a dry climate and
we have to conserve. It doesn't rain in the growing season. Something has to happen to get
people's attention. Reduce normal demand by 10% and that will buy us time."

Although a prolonged drought is relatively rare, its accompanying danger is very serious. So the
question of going to the voters for funding desalination is a difficult one. As described by one
water official, “You’re torn between two things. Your fundamental responsibility is to guarantee
a reliable, safe, affordable water supply for our customers, and on the other hand, you want to
respect the will of the people. If the will of the people is that they don’t want it, and yet all your
experts say this is the only way to get it, do people have the right to vote themselves into danger?
Water is a public safety issue, like the police department.”

Nevertheless, the Grand Jury believes that Marin voters should be polled, and they need to be
fully informed of the present water situation, because they will ultimately be paying for the
solution through their water bills. MMWD, through its marinwater.org web site, has an excellent
information medium in place. However, it is not being used to provide the hard information that
an informed citizenry needs. As of late February 2005, publication of the board of directors’
meeting minutes was four months late. Although numerous detailed studies, consultants’ reports,
and staff reports (which support meeting agenda items) are being produced, printed, and given
limited distribution, they are not being posted to the web site. Because public opinion will play a
large part in the ultimate solution to Marin’s water problem, MMWD needs to properly inform
and educate the public.

F1.        The repeat of a drought of the severity of 1976-77, even under current drought response
           plans, would leave central and southern Marin at significant risk of having a severe water
F2.        Routine conservation programs have been effective in drought-free years, but an
           additional 10% reduction in normal usage is necessary to prepare for the occurrence of a
           possible drought.
F3.        Recycling is expensive and has limited potential.
F4.        Two strong, viable, though expensive, options exist for alleviating the effects of a
           drought: building a desalination plant or increasing Sonoma County Water Agency
           deliveries through a pipeline.

April 27, 2005                        Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                        Page 11 of 15
                                                             Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

F5.        A decision to pursue either option can apparently be acted on without being put to a
           popular vote. An action plan from MMWD, with full public disclosure, is overdue.
F6.        Legally required dam releases to sustain endangered fish have first priority on reservoir
           water even in droughts.
F7.        North Marin Water District and the smaller coastal water districts appear to have
           adequate water supplies.

The Grand Jury recommends as follows:

R1.        The Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) should take a stronger position on
           conservation ensuring a minimum reduction of 10% in normal base-level usage.
           Conservation measures should include educating the public in what it means to live in a
           dry summer climate.
R2.        MMWD should inform the public of its plans for supplying adequate water during a
           drought before committing to a solution. MMWD should publicize the directions chosen
           in terms of timing, costs, impacts on water rates and the degree of dependency on other
           agencies for the various options.
R3.        MMWD should put to a public vote any project of the magnitude of desalination and
           SCWA pipeline expansion.
R4.        MMWD should attempt to renegotiate required dam releases with the relevant Federal
           and State agencies to reduce legally required stream flow requirements during droughts.

Pursuant to Penal code section 933.05, the grand jury requests responses as follows:

           Board of Directors, Marin Municipal Water District F1–F6, R1–R4.
           Marin County Board of Supervisors F5, R3.

Bahman Sheikh and Parsons. “Review of Water Recycling and Gray Water for Marin Municipal
Water District.” April 2001.
Bahman Sheikh and Parsons. “Seawater Desalination as Possible Alternative Component of
Integrated Water Resources for MMWD.” August 5, 2004.
Brooks, Russ. “Federal Court Says Endangered Species Listing of Klamath Coho is Bogus.”
Pacific Legal Foundation. January 15, 2005.
Brooks, Russ. “PLF Fights NMFS on Southern Oregon/Northern California Coho Listing.”
Pacific Legal Foundation. January 12, 2005.
Castle, Robert. Desalination Presentation. MMWD. August, 2004.

April 27, 2005                        Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                        Page 12 of 15
                                                          Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

Cooperative Agreement Between the Marin Municipal Water District and the State of California
Department of Fish and Game for … the Operations of the Soulajule Reservoir in Marin County.
Modification #1. July 1, 1985.
Fimrite, Peter. “Marin Pipeline Tussle Extended – Russian River.” San Francisco Chronicle.
November 9, 2000.
Fimrite, Peter. “Marin thirsty for desalination. Officials say tapping bay could solve water
woes.” San Francisco Chronicle. December 30, 2002.
General Counsel. “Voter Approval Requirements for Funding options for Desalination –
Update.” MMWD. June 16, 2004.
General Information Binder. North Marin Water District. September 7, 2004.
Ground Water Supply Alternatives Upper Lagunitas Creek Catchment, Results Phase 1.
GSi/water. November 17, 2004.
Hennessey, Virginia. “Private Desalination Plants Worry Environmentalists: Officials Favor
Public Agencies.” Monterey County Herald. May 8, 2004.
Integrated Water Resources Management Program – Elements Considered. MMWD. June 2,
Long Range Financial Master Plan 2003-04 to 2013-14. MMWD. Undated.
McNamara, Steve. “Water Worries.” Pacific Sun. June 30-July 6, 2004.
Measure V. MMWD Resolution 6390 (Full Text). July 8, 1992.
Meet the Marin Municipal Water District. MMWD. Undated.
Pischel, Libby. Desalination Pilot Plant Public Outreach Program Expansion. MMWD. February
16, 2005.
Roxon, Dana.” Water Supply Options Report.” Marin Municipal Water District, March 2, 2005.
Staff Report. Water Supply Workshop. Sonoma County Water Agency. November 1, 2004.
State Water Resources Control Board Order: WR 95-17 Lagunitas Creek. October 26, 1995.
Thiesen, Ron. “Approval of Consultant Contract – Desalination Pilot Plant Program.” MMWD.
October 6, 2004.
Urban Water Management Plan. MMWD. Adopted February 19, 2003.

April 27, 2005                     Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                        Page 13 of 15
                                                              Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources



The desalination process that MMWD will use is called Reverse Osmosis.

In this process, saltwater is forced through a very tight plastic membrane that allows water
molecules to pass through while larger molecules do not. It is called “reverse” because, without
the strong pressure, water would naturally flow in the opposite direction. The steps involved are:

           The saltwater is pretreated by filtration. This is a critically important step to remove
           particles that would otherwise plug the membranes. (This is the step that became a big
           problem in the Tampa Bay plant and caused major cost increases and delays.)
           The filtered water is then forced through the membranes.
           Two gallons of saltwater yield one gallon of potable water and one gallon of brine that
           has double the salt concentration of the feed.
           The potable water is given a post-treatment over limestone to improve taste and decrease
           The brine is discharged into the Bay, preferably after mixing with sewage treatment
           effluent which has low salt content.
           Sludge from the pretreatment is taken to a landfill.

All the steps involved require the approval of regulators.

April 27, 2005                         Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                        Page 14 of 15
                                           Water, Water Anywhere? A Review of Marin's Water Resources

                 Lake Nicasio Spillway April 18, 2005

April 27, 2005      Marin County Civil Grand Jury                                        Page 15 of 15

To top